Hamilton insists ‘tacky driving’ by Mercedes in Bahrain isn’t just for show

Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both appear to believe that Ferrari had the best package during pre-season testing.

Sir Lewis Hamilton has joined Mercedes team-mate George Russell in implying that Ferrari have the fastest car this season.

The Scuderia set an impressive 438 laps over the three days of testing in Barcelona last month, and have racked up 230 in the first couple of days in the second and final test in Bahrain.

Charles Leclerc topped the timing sheets on the second day in Spain, before the Spaniard had looked set to do the same on Friday evening until Kevin Magnussen rocketed to the fastest time during Haas’ extra hour out on track due to their freight troubles earlier in the week.

Russell suggested during the first week in Spain that Ferrari and McLaren “look very, very competitive, so let’s see what tomorrow brings and what we can do between this test and Bahrain,” before insinuating that Mercedes do not have the most competitive car under the all-new technical regulations.

Sainz vehemently dismissed those suggestions, stating that this is a common mind game tactic employed by the Silver Arrows.

“I think it’s typical Mercedes, typical George. Just hype up the others and then come to the first race and blow the competition away, which is typical,” he said.

“If it had would be the first year they’ve done it then I would maybe believe them, but they’ve done it for five six years now and they keep [performing] in the first race.

“So, as you can imagine I don’t think much [of the comments] and yes, already in GPS [data] we can also see what they are doing.” 

The Mercedes car has looked a bit of handful particularly during the Bahrain test, but it is fairly perceptible that the eight-time champions are not running their car at full capacity.

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Nonetheless, Hamilton maintains that his team would not be going as far to as to make their ride look uncomfortable just to mask their performance.

“We’ll be really, really, really good if we were having all these oversteer moments and tacky driving just to hide our cards,” he explained.

“That’s not the case. We have things we’re trying to get through. Others are struggling less.

“Who knows, maybe when we’ll get to next week we’ll have a better understanding.”